Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ukrainian style

Even though I want to constantly sneak close-up photos of people in interesting outfits, I usually am able to hold back. But this outfit was so typical that it demanded to be captured.

Bleached blond hair, black boots with a heel, tight black jeans, a leather jacket AND a fur vest. This describes the winter attire of most Kharkovian women, except most go either for a leather jacket or a fur vest, not both. Oh, and black is just as popular a hair color choice as blond.
Other observations:
  • Two young moms out for a stroll in fashionable clothes. One pushes a baby stroller and holds an open beer. The other, in boots with a pencil-thin heel, smokes a cigarette and totters along next to her toddler.  
  • On the metro: a man in a gray wife-beater, gold chain, black jeans, a laptop case, and pointy black leather shoes. Pointy shoes are very popular for both sexes.
    • Lots of women over 50 with purple or pink hair. Is this the result of a mishap with some dye? I'd think so except I've actually seen hair dyes available in these colors in the drug stores.
    • A middle-aged man in blazer, slacks, sneakers, with traditional Cossack-style hair (head shaved except for a tiny tuft on top). It's common to see older men wearing blazers and track pants.
    • Bangs. Everyone has bangs. Everyone.
    • Ukrainians can make mullets look good. Does this mean I've been here for too long? 
    • One wardrobe staple (other than heels) is the lace or mesh shirt. This is an AWESOME idea. They're sold everywhere, they're cheap, they come in every color and pattern possible, and you can use them to easily change the look of an outfit. They come in varying degrees of see-through so they're not a stand-alone item. To the right are my newest shirts. They were about $5 each at the Caravan mall.
    • In the winter it's popular for women to wear mid-length shorts, nylons, and boots, creating an interesting 3-layer look. Now that the weather's warm we have gone from that to merely short shorts. Seriously, how did people stay so skinny all winter? Does no one need to go on a "winter's over, it's time to lose the 10 lbs from the holidays" diet?
    • Another flashback- as winter ended and spring began, bright colors suddenly came out of hiding. Well, except for the guys. Men tend to always wear subdued colors. And you'll notice women wearing clothes that are tailored in at the waist or simply using a belt to accent their waistline. I think this is a brilliant idea that we've forgotten about in the US. No wonder Ukrainians have a reputation for looking so put-together!
    • Incredibly long and elaborate fake nails. It's one thing to have these, it's another to have them redone in a new style every week (as I've seen on many of my students). Btw, it's incredibly amusing to watch people try to send text messages with such nails.
      Steve Daubs, who keeps an interesting photo blog about Kharkov, observes young beauties and old babushki in this post.

      All that aside, I like the fashion here in general. As I've written, ah, like 90 billion times before. Let me show you why...
      The lace tops? Here's one with a white tank top underneath:
      Turtlenecks are popular. I like their look so I just deal with the {gasp} strangling neckband. This unusual necklace was a gift from some male co-workers on Women's Day. 
      I must admit the top above did not last very long. It literally fell apart after two months, but let me tell you- those were two beautiful months of lace turtleneck!

      And oh, the super-feminine details! Most of my Ukrainian shirts have lace backs or sparkles or bows. D ribs me endlessly about the bows but hey, I dig them. They make me feel like a present. An expensive one.
      True, this is one crazy shirt just from the front. And there's lace and a bow on the back. I can't help it! It's soooo good!

      Want more fashion? Go here!


      1. I love this post! One of my favourite activities was to sit outside a cafe on a busy street and wait for some of the more intense fashion choices to wander by. Oh, and the way the university students dressed really threw me for a loop- always, ALWAYS stiletto heels and often very short skirts. To me it was club wear, but it seemed to be pretty everyday.

        Most intense fashion items I spotted? Electric blue furry vest paired with skin-tight pleather pants. I wish I'd had my camera.

        I found addidas-style track suits were the most common item sported by men. Also a lot of mullet going on. Generally it was more fun to look at women's fashion- they make a lot of bold choices.

        And about the pink and purple hair sported by women in their 50s and 60s... this was something SO common. I couldn't figure it out! Finally I asked a few Ukrainian friends, and they said it was because it made them "feel young". I have no idea.

        I do have some really great pictures of crazy fashion on mannequins at one of the malls I went to... I really need to find these and post them on my blog.

      2. Awesome comment, Tara. So much fun to read!!! :) I could talk about fashion all day long. All funny stuff aside, it is nice to not see people wandering around in public wearing old t-shirts and sweat pants but actually looking presentable. Sometimes back home I'd be shocked to see middle-aged people buying groceries in their pajamas (although this usually happened at Walmart). I guess I did that stuff when I was like 19, but then I grew out of it. Anyways, do post your pictures when you find them!